Lately, the health-conscious buzz-phrase is, “Yeah, I eat clean whenever I can”. Okaaaay…. so for the rest of us less-estoteric eaters, what does that mean? All it really means is we eat simply prepared food in its most natural and pure state. That’s it, you say? Well, pretty much, but here are some tasty guidelines to follow since sometimes we don’t even realize that what we’re eating isn’t really food, it’s a “food product”.
- Get “fresh”. If fruits and veggies look like they just came out of the garden, they’re “clean”, meaning they are whole and unprocessed. Eat them raw, or prepare with olive or sesame oil. Jazz up your fresh finds with spices you like and minimal or no salt. Fruits are delicious eaten whole, in salads, or baked.
- Buy what’s in season and local. If it traveled a long distance to get here, it’s probably sprayed with a lot of preservatives and has also lost nutrients on the way. Organic fruits and veggies are always preferrable, but not necessary if you’re trying to budget. (Note: Learn which fruits and veggies are extremely high in pesticides and what you can do about it.) Buying local produce saves energy and reduces your carbon footprint as a consumer which is better for the environment and supports your local farmers.
- It’s okay to eat lean meat and dairy, as long as it was raised and cared for humanely and cage-free, with no antibiotics or hormones, and was fed a healthy diet. Check the labels and talk to your butcher. If you’re on a tight food budget, reserve your organic purchases specifically to meat and dairy.
- Develop a “carb complex”. That means avoid refined ingredients like sugar, flour, pasta, and bread (known as simple carbohydrates or “bad”). Eat rustic recipes that include whole grains (complex carbohydrates, “good”) instead.
- Get the skinny on fats. Learn about cooking and eating healthy fats. See the following handy table below:
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.
|Monounsaturated fat||Polyunsaturated fat|
- Drink your water whole too. This means drink your water straight up with no weird bottled additives. Water in its natural state gives your body everything it needs. If you want a little flavor, squeeze an orange into it, add some peach nectar, add a slice of lemon, etc.
- Don’t eat anything that isn’t really food. Any food containing a long list of ingredients is probably filled with chemicals and things that really aren’t food. Read the label!
Eating clean takes us back to common-sense eating. If it’s recognizable in its naked state as something that grew from the earth that’s a good sign. If the meats and dairy came from humanely treated, properly fed animals, that’s also important (unless you’re vegetarian, but people do need to know how to conscientiously consume whatever they choose). There’s not a lot of mystery here unless your kids think that veggies only come from a can and that fruit exists only in syrupy squares served in plastic. In that case, you have a tasty world of earthly delights ahead for your family to discover. Enjoy eating clean!